All Souls

George Gilbert Scott, perhaps the greatest ecclesiastical architect of the time, designed All Souls on a grand scale, having in mind the nave of one of the great Yorkshire abbeys.

About this church

All Souls was situated in an area known as the 'Laylands', an area ministering to the disparate populations of Blenheim and Carlton Hill. Blenheim with its grand houses and lodges surrounding the square, stood in stark contrast besides the impoverished population living in the narrow rows of back to back terraced houses and small industries that hugged the hillside down to Camp Hill (now Little London) and onto Meanwood Road.

During Dr Hooks incumbency, the number of churches in Leeds more than doubled from 15 to 36, church schools reached 30 from 3 and parsonages from 6 to 29. Cecil Hook, the son of Walter Farquhar Hook, became the first vicar and his portrait appears on a number of the panels of the font canopy, painted by the pre Raphaelite artist Emily Ford. Emily also founded the Leeds Suffrage Society with her sister Isabella. The spire of the canopy soars to about thirty feet towards the stone vaulting of the baptistry completed at the beginning of the 20th century.

The tower was built to contain a ring of 14 bells, it has only one, the prayer bell, which is still in use and was originally hung in the small spiralet to the south of the chancel.

The entire flooring of All Souls consists of mosaic work by Rusts, gradually increasing in richness as the sanctuary is approached and based on ancient Roman examples. Francis Skidmore, considered the finest metal worker of his day (but who died in poverty,) made the gates and screen work in the chancel.

The majority of the glass, by Clayton & Bell, forms a complete set, Old Testament in the north aisle and New Testament in the south, rounded off by the great east window showing the major events in the life of Jesus. Charles Eamer Kemp designed the great west window, one clerestory window in the chancel and the painted panels in the reredos of the high altar. The high altar contains detailed images, including a carving of a devil. It is said that one of the priests was so disapproving of the altar carvings that they were covered up as shown in the picture below.

The great organ was built as the showpiece instrument of Abbott & Smith in 1880 and rebuilt by the same builders in 1938. The gilded oak casework was designed by Hick & Johnson .

The huge hanging crucifix in the nave was carved by the famous 20th century sculptor Kavana and on its completion was the largest human figure sculptured in this country since the Renaissance. The church has many examples of fine Victorian and Edwardian embroidery, silver and a monstrance with supposedly Pugin associations.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Social heritage stories
  • National heritage here
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • Ramp or level access available on request
  • Car park at church
  • Accessible toilets in church
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike
  • Church shop or souvenirs

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